Last week I reviewed Priest and mentioned that there were better “so bad, it’s good” movies out there. An example of such a movie, in my opinion, is Battleship; based upon the literal ‘battleship’ game, wherein players attempt to attack each other’s ships. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed playing ‘battleship’ and so I suppose I was a little biased when it comes to this movie.
Battleship, while about the game ‘battleship’ at its core, also attempts to have larger over-arching plots. Firstly, it’s a maturing story for the main character, naval officer Alex Hopper (played by Taylor Kitsch). Secondly, it’s an aliens vs. humans for planet Earth scenario. The two plot-lines intersect (obviously) and are peppered with a multitude of characters. And that’s really it for the plot-line. There are various scenes devoted to both stories. For Hopper’s maturation, we get the typical — bad-boy with an attitude problem who undergoes a major trauma and has great responsibility thrust upon him — story. While for the aliens vs. humans plot line, we get the predictable “Aliens want to destroy Earth for its resources” trope. Although, I think the latter plot is a slight variation on most stereotypical Alien invasion plots. Much like other alien stories, the aliens in Battleship are concerned with communicating with their larger fleet in space. However, the aliens in this movie also aren’t extremely ruthless. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they do kill a fair amount of people and destroy large parts of the world, but they don’t attack defenseless humans. As we’re shown, they do a sort of value judgement and only attack if their value judgement indicated that the object is hostile to them and needs to be attacked (ex. industrial buildings and people shooting at them). I think its an interesting change.
I’ve read a few reviews for this movie online and most of them basically pan the movie. Saying that it has no real plot-line, the acting is bad, that it only has action scenes and nothing else, it takes itself too seriously, etc. And if I really meditate upon it, I suppose I can understand where these reviewers are coming from. Yet, I still really enjoy this movie. This silliness mixed with the overly serious tone just works for me somehow. To give you an example of the two, in one scene of the movie, the main characters are at a stand-still on a dock in Hawaii. Their naval ships have been destroyed by the aliens and the threat still remains. In the background of this angst, we see random patriotic shots of older veteran soldiers standing upon an older American battleship that was presumably used in a war, and now functions as a museum. Seeing them, Hopper gets the idea to use the old battleship museum as a real ship to attack the aliens, with the randomly standing around veterans acting as crew members (LOL). The next scene is a montage where Hopper salutes them, asks them for their help, and they help get the old battleship ready to fight the aliens. It’s literally ridiculous LOL. What type of old museum still has working old ammunitions and when do random veterans ever stand around on old museums in full uniform? Instead of touching upon this absurdity, the movie actually plays these moments for serious patriotic value. And I LOVE it. It’s just so stupidly cheesy that I cannot help but smile.
And that basically sums up how I feel about the movie. It’s definitely cliche, predictable and cheesy, but also so earnest (at least during some parts).
What I also like about the film, is the casting choices. First off, I like how there’s definitely some people of colour in the film. Although Hopper, seaman Ordy (played by Jesse Plemons), and Hoppy’s girlfriend Sam (played by Brooklyn Decker) are shown to be white, the other supporting characters are generally people of colour. The petty officer who convinces Hopper off his self-destructive path with the aliens is played by John Tui. The weapons officer is played by songstress Rihanna. The Japanese captain who actually theorizes and executes the ‘battleship’ game is played by Tadanobu Asano. And retired Lietantant Colonel Mick is played by Gregory D. Gadson. That actually relates to another point I like: some of the extras/ actor were real-life military men. Gregory D. Gadson is actually a retired decorated Colonel. Plus the World War II veterans shown earlier in the film, were also played by real-life retired army men. I just thought it was so cool of the director to include that.
That said, of course as a bad film, it also has its flaws (slight undercurrent of racism in one or two scenes), as mentioned earlier. But on the whole, I still enjoy it for what it is: a movie based upon the game battleship (LOL).
My rating: watch it if you’re in the mood for an enjoyable, dumb, action movie and are not too concerned with depth (or realistic-ness).